In varying states of deflation, Joe Davidson’s pastel balloons sag, slump, and flop in every direction. The limp, elongated forms are stacked on top of one another in seemingly precarious piles and resemble latex tubes filled with days-old air. While the sculptures are playful in both color and form, the Los Angeles-based artist notes that they also hold earnest themes of masculinity and aging, two concepts he’s thinking about often.
Davidson prefers to explore new materials and those beyond the bronze, stone, and wood typically used in this medium. “I was in a period about ten years ago where I was working exclusively in Scotch tape,” he shares. His more recent interest has been in plaster, which he uses to make the balloons. “There’s something about the malleability, chalkiness, and its history that is always appealing,” he says.
Adding color has been a recent evolution and one Davidson is adjusting to still. “My work historically tends to be monochromatic, as I have usually decided to let the nature of the materials speak for themselves. However, there’s something tantalizing about the color pastel scheme (I hate pastel!). It’s awkward and pretty, enticing to touch and sarcastic at the same time,” he says.
For this particular series, the artist cites myriad references, including Jeff Koons’s balloon animals and Louise Bourgeois’s use of anthropomorphism. Overall, though, he often returns to the Dadaists and Italian Arte Povera, who “were always welcoming chance and randomness in their work,” he says.
They came from totally different viewpoints (Dada embracing the absurdity of existence post WWI and Arte Povera looking for the poetic in the mundane), but their processes really resonate with me. A critical part of the process is setting up certain parameters and letting the art fix and finish itself. I exercise a lot of control in creating the framework for a work, but I always listen to what the material is telling me it wants to do.
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Uncoiled Rope Sprawls Across Canvases and Open Spaces in Organic Forms by Artist Janaina Mello Landini
Janaina Mello Landini (previously) unbraids lengths of rope to create fibrous labyrinths that breach canvases’ edges and crawl from floor to ceiling. Including both sprawling site-specific installations and smaller pieces confined to a few dozen centimeters, the São Paulo-based artist’s body of work is broad. All of her projects, though, explore tension and space as they spread into arboreal forms or perfectly round networks.
Her recent works include a massive tree-like installation that fans out across Zipper Gallery’s floor and walls into delicate, tape blossoms. Another is a smaller, numbered piece that was born from the artist’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “My days are quite slow now, no more assistants around, but I’m still working and thinking a lot,” she shares with Colossal and notes that at the beginning of lockdowns, she completed “Ciclotrama 177 (Fibonacci),” which is shown below.
Since 2010, Landini has been contributing to her Ciclotrama series, a moniker that defines each piece. “The social cartography of individual networks shows the infinite interconnectedness of personal trajectories throughout a system, society, and the world as a whole. The movement of bodies (ropes) and the relationship between rhythm and time are also fundamental aspects of these series,” she says.
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Fascinated by the organisms found in the sea and bodies of freshwater, artist Jiyong Lee (previously) sculpts semi-transparent artworks that evoke the various forms of algae and other microscopic creatures. The segmented pieces, which are composed of smooth, matte glass, create both organic and geometric shapes. Part of an ongoing Segmentation Series, the composite works consider the evolution of a single cell, which Lee expands on:
I work with glass that has transparency and translucency, two qualities that serve as perfect metaphors for what is known and unknown about life science. The segmented, geometrical forms of my work represent cells, embryos, biological and molecular structures—each symbolizing the building blocks of life as well as the starting point of life.
Lee is based in Carbondale, Illinois, where he teaches at Southern Illinois University, and many of the pieces shown here will be part of a group show at Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis from September 12 to October 17, 2020. The artist also was chosen as one of 30 artists for the Loewe Foundation’s Craft Prize, which will bring him to Paris for an exhibition in the spring of 2021. Until then, explore more of Lee’s biology-informed sculptures on Artsy.
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Lisa Törner repurposes the front pages of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the French weekly Le Canard Enchainé into inky canvases for her expressive creatures. For each edition, the Stockholm-based artist offers insightful commentary on the day’s events: a pensive monkey masks an article about bankers on Wall Street, a turquoise peacock adorns the coverage of Karl Lagerfield’s death, and a slinking leopard is rendered alongside a heartwrenching story about a mother and child, who were separated more than 50 years ago. “The panther symbolize(s) the son’s escape from North Korea,” she tells Colossal.
Törner, who is the daughter of Swedish sculptor and illustrator Bernt Törner, grew up in an artistic household and learned to paint at a young age. In her own practice, she sketches the evocative animals directly on the front pages. Her technique includes a combination of blank ink, acrylics, and oil paints to complete the wild creatures.
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Suspended Orbs, Webs, and Air Plants Imagine an Alternative Ecological Future by Artist Tomás Saraceno
Three reflective spheres hover above the courtyard of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi in Tomás Saraceno’s immersive installation. The metallic orbs mirror the historic Renaissance architecture in addition to visitors who pass by, while marking the entrance to the imagined space that explores life beyond anthropocentrism. As its name suggests, Aria is concerned with air, encompassing human travel, its ability to foster growth, and how it’s entwined with every living organism.
The Argentinian artist (previously) is known for his large-scale works that fall at the intersection of science and art and consider the human toll on the natural world. Throughout Aria are various experiences dealing with contemporary environmental issues: Glass forms hang from the ceiling and house Tillandsia plants, which need only air to survive, while “A Thermodynamic Imaginary” considers the immensity of the sun and its unused potential.
Each of the works also references one of Saraceno’s 33 arachnomancy cards that explore ecological interconnectivity. References to arachnids manifest in the complex systems that hold Weaire–Phelan structures in “Connectome” or in the stark “Aerographies,” a series of clear balloons and framed networks that explore how “the movements of people, heat, animals, and spider/webs affect and are affected by the air,” a statement from Saraceno says.
Ecosystems have to be thought of as webs of interactions, within which each living being’s ecology co‐evolves, together with those of others. By focusing less on individuals and more on reciprocal relationships, we might think beyond what means are necessary to control our environments and more on the shared formation of our quotidian.
If you’re in Florence, stop by the Palazzo Strozzi to see Saraceno’s work before it closes on November 1, 2020. Otherwise, find out more about what he has planned for the rest of the year, which includes a new solar-powered balloon, on his site and Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Vanessa Hogge translates her lifelong fascination with flowers into monochromatic assemblages of hydrangeas, roses, and myriad blossoms. The London-based artist (previously) has been working on EFFLORESCENCE since October 2019. Each of the delicate porcelain pieces is adorned with innumerable hand-sculpted florets and leaves that blossom from a central base.
Rather than studying horticulture textbooks and the intricacies of plant life, Hogge works entirely from her memory and imagination and frequents gardens and other places where organic elements thrive for observation. “I’ve traveled to research in the Okavango Swamps in Botswana, the flower-filled valleys of the Northern Cape in South Africa, and this January (just before lockdown), to Southern India to be surrounded by the exotic vegetation there—just beautiful,” she tells Colossal.
Hogge’s inspirations, though, are vast. She imbues elements of the funky textiles created in the 1970s, miniature depictions of Indian gardens, and Frida Kahlo’s iconic flowers. “As an artist, the variety of their forms and structures is immense and endless. People comment and wonder when I will move on and if I will tire of flowers, but how can I? This fascination is also steeped in my family matriarchs—strong women gardeners and the great outdoors,” she says.
The artist’s work will be part of a virtual show at Living Object Gallery from October 23-25, 2020. Until then, she offers a brief look into her studio and process in this short video and on Instagram. You also might enjoy Hitomi Hosono’s intricate vessels.
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